Review: Solas at The Savoy creates an enchanted evening for al fresco dining
With a sophisticated seafood menu Solas, in collaboration with Bowmore, is transforming the Savoy courtyard
Entering The Savoy never fails to deliver a touch of 1920s glamour. As soon as you turn off the Strand and onto the art deco styling of the Savoy Court, leading to the theatrical European exterior of London’s first purpose-built luxury hotel, you know you’re about to leave the modern world behind in favour of something a little glamorous and extremely indulgent.
The hotel’s latest pop-up concept, Solas, is no exception. The al fresco dining experience is a feast for the eyes as much as for the tastebuds, with The Savoy’s courtyard transformed into a buzzing, elegant restaurant and bar in collaboration with Islay’s oldest Scotch whisky distillery, Bowmore.
With such names involved, the hotel’s classic high level of service, and such an iconic art deco setting, Solas could have been a simple affair – a few tables, heaters for the spring season’s unpredictable weather – to be a hit. But where would be the fun in that?
In true Savoy style, Solas is a visual triumph that has metamorphosised the courtyard into a world of its own, from the 1920s-style Bowmore bar hinting at the mountains of Scotland to the central pièce de resistance: a 5m wide installation decorated with shards of crystal, decanters and stoppers.
All this is merely the visual starter to an unforgettable meal. We started, of course, with the Bowmore oyster luge – three oysters expertly paired with Bowmore whisky – during which diners first sip the oyster brine, then the Scotch before eating the oyster and sipping more whisky from the empty shell itself. This ritual was the most uplifting oyster pairing I have experienced. Wanting to test our Scotch sommelier’s skills, we opted for three Malden oysters and three Jersey rocks garnished with horseradish.
Paired with an excellent 18 Year Old Single Malt, the ritual of the luge immediately made the meal more than the sum of its parts, with the oysters bringing out different qualities in the Scotch and vice versa. The heavy smokiness that came to the fore with the Malden oysters was particularly delicious.
An impressive Bowmore cocktail list further explores the world of whisky, but The Savoy’s wine list is nothing to be sniffed at as we move onto the raw and fresh seafood bar. With dishes such as blue scallop ceviche, fresh lobster with corn on the cob, crab claws and langoustine, this is a menu very much designed with seafood lovers in mind – though we recommend being generous with your order, as one dish is simply not enough. The lobster roll is a particular stand-out hit.
With the outstanding service and style we’ve come to expect from The Savoy, it’s no wonder that the name “Solas” comes from the Gaelic for light, joy and comfort. We’ll be sad to see this enchanting pop up experience go on 21 June.
Solas is open 4pm-10pm Monday-Thursday, 12pm-10pm Friday-Sunday until 21 June